What Happened when Mike Pence Visited Jerusalem

On Monday, January 22, 2018, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence announced that a new United States Embassy to Israel would open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019. This statement was made to the Israeli Parliament and follows President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month. President Trump’s statement overturned decades of American policy and international consensus.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Trump endorsed the Israeli position in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital or believe it should be divided. However, the President has said that the embassy’s move to Jerusalem will not hinder peace talks. This approach has been approved of and welcomed by many Israelis.

In his parliamentary speech, Vice President Pence emphasized the United States’ backing of Israel’s position: “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.” The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will not meet with Mr. Pence. Additionally, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, said that Mr. Pence’s statement was a “gift to extremists.”

This move and statement are divisive in international politics. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is decades-old, and the international community is split on how to best handle the situation. No Arab leaders have agreed to meet Mr. Pence during his visit to Israel, and he has not scheduled visits to several Christian holy sites—Nazareth and Bethlehem, most notably—that exist in Palestinian territory.